An Open Letter to Our Senators and Representatives
This morning, I sent an email to my representatives and senators. Here is a copy of that email, which you may copy and modify if you choose.
Dear [insert Senator/Representative name],
I was a sophomore, studying in my college dorm when the news broke in 1998. There’d been a school shooting in Jonesboro—a town just an hour up the road—and four students and a teacher were dead. I remember the weight of the moment, not just because of the loss of life, but because of my proximity to it. It was in my state, my backyard, and if it could happen here, it could happen anywhere. Maybe even on my own campus.
If I’m honest, I don’t recall anything like the national collective outrage we feel when these shootings happen today. I don’t recall any school walkouts or demands for firearm reforms, though there may have been. My memory is a fickle thing. What I remember, though, were the same vows we hear today: never forget; never again. I also remember thinking we could actually keep this from happening again because, even if we didn’t have all the answers, we were innovative people. We were a family. And we’d come together to figure it out because our kids deserved it.
That was 24 years ago. We still haven’t figured it out.
Since that date in 1998, we’ve figured out so many things. And because I’m not the only one with a fickle memory, I thought I’d provide just a small-ish list of the things we’ve figured out:
We’ve brought America online, giving nearly every community access to the global information superhighway;
Google became a verb, and it allowed us to find any fact or piece of information, no matter how obscure;
We sequenced the entire human genome;
Scientists discovered the “God particle”;
A vehicle landed on Mars and sent back copious amounts of data on the red planet;
We’ve created devices that hold thousands of albums, manage your tasks, power your business, connect you with a strangers in… wherever, and give you the shortest route from your house to the White House;
Amazon launched the Kindle;
We’ve created efficient electric vehicles and a nationwide infrastructure for charging those vehicles;
The rise of social media connected us with classmates from 1998 and fomented revolutions in authoritarian countries;
Cloud computing became a reality;
Gene editing is a thing (though it can’t bring our children back from the grave);
There are reusable rockets, which can land vertically and with precision;
We can 3-D print everything from car parts to organs (gun parts, too, a thing to consider);
An entire metaverse is being built;
The Blockchain gave us new forms of currency and solidified verification of digital title;
We’ve sorted out how to work remotely;
We stream movies, television shows, and the news of government inaction online;
Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry;
There’s Chipotle, and Doordash will deliver it to your office, and if you promise to take this email seriously, I’ll provide lunch to your staffers through the platform (just say the word).
We’ve figured out so many things over these last 24 years, and still, we haven’t figured out how to limit the senseless killing of our school children by madmen with military weapons. So, maybe you could put your considerable budget, your access to the best thinkers of our age, and your nearly limitless power to work and figure this out. You’ve been elected to do this kind of figuring.
Please get to figuring and acting and solving. Because every drop of blood spilled on a school campus between now and the time you take some action, some step toward figuring out a solution, is blood that’s on your hands.